I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t give one single heck about Doctor Who. I’ve seen a handful of episodes in my lifetime and, frankly, didn’t much care for it. I will even go so far as to say that I was not particularly excited to give a Doctor Who mobile game a try when I saw it on the list of upcoming releases. However, as a lifelong player of the Nancy Drew series, I adore mystery games, and I’m pleased to report that Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins is not only an excellent mystery game; it’s among the best android games I’ve played so far this year.
One of the biggest strengths of Doctor Who: The Lonely Assassins is that it takes place entirely on “your phone.” As Insert Player Character Here, you are meant to have found someone else’s phone, which is getting hacked right as the game starts. After this hacking succeeds, the phone rings. Once you pick up, boom, you’re in touch with Petronella Osgood, a tech-savvy woman trying to reach a man called Lawrence, the valid owner of the phone.
You gather through chatting with Osgood that she’s a scientist and an ex-member of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, or UNIT for short and that she’s been working with Lawrence on….something. But now he’s missing, and you have his phone, which is chock full o’ glitches and corrupted data. As you’re the only one available to help her, Osgood recruits you to her cause and sets you to work trying to find out as much as you can about Lawrence and his whereabouts by scouring his phone for clues.
This is where the game really got fun for me. Lawrence’s phone has its own user interface, which looks fantastic. From the pleasing color palette, personal photo as the wallpaper, well-designed icons, and little touches like in-game Wi-Fi, network, and battery icons, the UI is the immersive window through which you experience the game. It won’t surprise that the UI is so good, considering that The Lonely Assassins comes from the creators of award-winning titles Simulacra and Sara is Missing. But now he’s missing, and you have his phone, which is chock full o’ glitches and corrupted data.
Your primary methods of investigation lie in Lawrence’s chats, emails, photos, phone records, and browser history. Prompted by Osgood, you begin to explore Lawrence’s life through what’s been left behind on his phone. Make no mistake; you can’t afford to gloss over any piece of evidence, even if it’s not “scan-worthy” to later share with Osgood.